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Democratic Innovations in Deliberative Systems: the Case of the Estonian Citizens’ Assembly Process
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (Center for Democratic Government in Change)
2015 (English)In: Journal of Public Deliberation, ISSN 1937-2841, E-ISSN 1937-2841, Vol. 11, no 1, article id 7Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

With the proliferation and application of democratic innovations around the world, the empirical study of deliberative and participatory processes has shifted from small-scale environments and experiments to real-life political processes on a large scale. With this shift, there is also a need to explore new theoretical approaches in order to understand current developments. Instead of analyzing democratic innovations in isolation, the recent ‘systemic turn’ in the field encourages us to broaden our perspective and evaluate democratic innovations as complementary parts of a political system.

This paper will draw upon a qualitative case study, based on interview and supported by survey data, of the ‘Estonian Citizens’ Assembly Process’ (ECA), in order to operationalize the systemic approach to deliberative democracy and illustrate how this can be applied to an analysis of democratic innovations.

The ECA spanned more than a year (November 2012 to April 2014) and covered three political arenas: the public sphere, democratic innovations and representative institutions. The systemic analysis highlights the deliberative strengths and weaknesses of arenas and institutions, and illuminates how various arenas and democratic innovations did and did not complement one another in the creation of a deliberative process. The systemic analysis offers two possible interpretations of the ECA. The more affirmative interpretation is it constituted a deliberative system, as it did perform the three main functions fulfilled by different arenas and institutions. The more critical interpretation is that the ECA partly failed to be a deliberative system, due to social domination and decoupling of institutions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
International Association for Public Participation , 2015. Vol. 11, no 1, article id 7
Keywords [en]
Democratic innovations, deliberative systems, crowdsourcing, ICTs, deliberative democracy
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-39681OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-39681DiVA, id: diva2:771667
Available from: 2014-12-15 Created: 2014-12-15 Last updated: 2018-09-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Democratic innovations in political systems: towards a systemic approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Democratic innovations in political systems: towards a systemic approach
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There are many indicators that the representative democratic system is currently facing serious legitimacy challenges. Two central indicators of these challenges are changing patterns of political participation and a decline in system support. Against this backdrop, a growing number of governments claim that democratic innovations (DIs) could reconnect institutions with citizens. This thesis focuses on online DIs implemented in real political contexts, and the overarching aim of the thesis is to contribute to the emergent empirical scholarship on how DIs can influence political systems. In the last two decades, most empirical studies in the field have analysed DIs at the micro level.

This thesis takes a different stance by posing system-related research questions to the implementation of DIs and, by doing so, showing how DIs are interrelated with, rather than isolated from, the political system and that DIs can influence political systems. The thesis consists of one literature review and three empirical case studies, applying a multiple methodological approach. Its novelty lies in three main empirical findings that contribute to the development of the field. First, it shows that participation in DIs can influence citizens’ perceived trust towards local political institutions. In addition, the results suggest that predispositions and prior engagement mediate the direction of change in trust amongst citizens. Secondly, the results show that DIs can perform different political functions, such as facilitating spaces for citizens to provide original ideas and deliberation, while also having an agenda-setting function. Thirdly, the result suggest that long-term institutional change is complex and that the implementation of DIs can create a situation in which civil servants and politicians perceive their organisation to be in some ‘state of flux’, as they are torn between two competing institutional logics. In conclusion, this thesis should be understood as a piece in a broader movement that works towards a systemic approach to the study of DIs, and that by showing these empirical findings, the thesis contributes to deepening our understanding of what influences and functions DIs can have in political systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro University, 2018. p. 126
Series
Örebro Studies in Political Science, ISSN 1650-1632 ; 42
Keywords
Democratic innovations, online political participation, political institutions, political trust, political systems
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-68711 (URN)978-91-7529-261-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-10-26, Örebro universitet, Prismahuset, Hörsal P1, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-09-04 Created: 2018-09-04 Last updated: 2018-11-19Bibliographically approved

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Jonsson, Magnus E.

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